It’s that time of year when A-list actors wait patiently by the phone and pretend that awards mean nothing (and that approval from colleagues and fans is recognition enough), but hoping against hope that their agent calls to tell them they got an Oscar nomination. The nominations were announced last week, and I must say there were a few surprises…and not the good kind.
There were nine films nominated, none of which were surprising, although as much as I liked Silver Linings Playbook, I wouldn’t put it in a league with the other nominees. There were no ghastly omissions. I mean, the Academy can nominate as many as 10 films, so if there was one even on the bubble, they could have included it. Now when you have nine Oscar-caliber films and only five Best Director nominations to hand out, things tend to get sticky.
The five directors nominated were Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild). That means the four directors of Oscar-nominated films snubbed were Ben Affleck (Argo), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty). I’m confused. Were they playing ‘opposite day’ on the playground at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that day? Did they conduct the nomination process in the bizarre world? Did the coach put the B squad in to give them some playing time? All I know is my list of nominees would have looked very different—four out of five different.
On to best actor. We have Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)...uh, OK; Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), the no-brainer of the group; Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) and Denzel Washington (Flight). Now Denzel already has his big upset Oscar from when he beat out Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind) with his B+ performance in Training Day, so unless Daniel Day-Lewis punches the desk clerk at the Mercer Hotel between now and the ceremony, this one is pretty much a lock. The only murmured snub—and snub is a strong word here—is John Hawkes, who gave a stirring performance as a man on life support in The Sessions. I don’t know why people aren’t considering Jamie Foxx’s omission a snub; I guarantee you he is.
The real snubs came in the Supporting Actor category, where neither Leonardo DiCaprio nor Samuel L. Jackson joined their Django co-star star Christoph Waltz on the list of nominees. The latest Bond film was snubbed in every category, but most insiders thought the biggest insult was overlooking Javier Bardem as the sadistic Silva.
Now the Best Actress category is less controversial, as the five nominees—including the youngest ever, 9-year old Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild—are all more than deserving. The two women who arguably deserve to be on the list are Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone and Helen Mirren for her performance in Hitchcock.
The Oscars air Feb. 24 on ABC—no doubt more snubs to come.